What are land acknowledgments?
Land acknowledgments are respectful actions rooted in Indigenous cultural protocols intended to express gratitude to the host Indigenous Nations whose land you are visiting. A common practice in Canada, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia and within Native American Nations, verbal and written land acknowledgments are becoming more prevalent within universities, museums, cultural, civic and educational institutions in the United States.
We are all on Indigenous land.
Land acknowledgments honor the Indigenous Nations whose territory one is on by disrupting the legacy of erasure enacted by settler colonialism. By including an acknowledgment in your classroom or before a presentation or public event, you can insert an awareness of contemporary Indigenous presence and land rights. Each land acknowledgement brings visibility to the historical legacy and ongoing impact of settler colonial policies that led to racial violence and dispossession of Indigenous land. Land acknowledgments also speak to the resilience of Indigenous Nations who survived these policies and are still here, continuing to thrive today. Land acknowledgments are a call to action to encourage us all to be proactive in supporting Indigenous sovereignty and cultural work. To learn more about the original inhabitants of your region, visit this interactive Native Land Territory Map. For a guide to preparing land acknowledgments, see this guide by the United States Department of Arts and Culture.
Dr. Kristin Dowell and her students have worked hard this year to win approval for the Department of Art History to and Florida State University to publish a land acknowledgement on their websites and have it presented at the beginning of all events. As part of Dr. Dowell’s Decolonizing Museums class, Art History undergraduates Mageda Nader, Sara Canon, and Romina Palmero advocated for FSU Student Senate Bill 93, enacting the SGA Indigenous Land Acknowledgment Act of 2020; fellow students Paris Gilstrap, Sara Kuba, Kendal McDowell, and Gillian Boyce worked on the land acknowledgment plaque that will be posted at the Museum of Fine Arts and is on MoFA’s website.